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Opinion: The News Media’s Selective Moral Outrage

A Texas law concerning services provided by faith-based adoption agencies went into effect on September 1st. The bill extends additional legal protections to providers who refuse services to prospective families on the basis of “sincerely-held religious beliefs.” Many faith-based adoption agencies receiving taxpayer funds through state contracts had already been engaging in these practices. As faith-based service providers, they consider it important to weigh their religious beliefs in decisions to deny or allow adoptions or foster placement.

Sen. Charles Perry, the bill’s sponsor, had previously asserted that the legislation is not intended to discriminate against anyone. Instead, he had merely intended to ensure that faith-based providers would not be alienated from helping to place children in good homes during the current state foster care crisis.

Rather than honestly report the intentions of those legislators who voted in favor of the bill, the mainstream media smeared the bill as a direct attack on the LGBTQ community. HuffPost included it in a round-up of legislation nestled under the headline, “With All Eyes On Trump, Texas May Soon Pass Horrific Anti-LGBTQ Laws.” Likewise, a headline from The New York Times, “Texas Bill Would Let Adoption Agencies Reject Families on Religious Grounds,” conveniently ignored the fact that this practice already occurs.

It is interesting to compare the news media’s treatment of this bill with the way the mainstream media treated a 2013 Texas law requiring abortion facilities to meet hospital-like building and operational standards for the sake of women’s health and safety.

In that instance, Mother Jones cited the law within a piece titled, “The War on Women is Over and Women Lost.” A headline from USA Today, “States’ abortion limits erode right to choose: Our view,” chose to portray it as a restriction of access to abortion rather than a crackdown on women’s health clinics that don’t meet basic health and safety requirements, such as guaranteeing access to emergency care.

In addition to revealing the news media’s willingness to misrepresent public policy debates, these headlines also reveal the selective moral outrage of reporters as a result of their bias for certain lifestyle choices.

The mainstream media wants to smear any group or individual who asserts their constitutional rights, even in those cases where those groups and individuals may be helping to alleviate a serious statewide social crisis. On the other hand, if you lead a secular lifestyle and you want abortion on-demand, the media will act as if your actions should be completely unrestrained, even by legitimate concerns for health and safety.

For a more local example, look no further than the media’s coverage of the recent fight over crisis pregnancy centers after the King County Board of Health implemented a rule requiring them to post signs telling women that the centers aren’t healthcare facilities.

It is a dangerous state of affairs when the news media operates under such an irrational moral framework.  The founding fathers intended a free press to serve the people as both a check-and-balance on government power and as the megaphone of strong cultural values. By these standards, in the case of Texas, the media has completely failed us.

Planned Parenthood and the Media Should Stop Lying About CMP Videos

Come mid-July, it will have been two years since the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released their first in a series of undercover videos depicting conversations with high-level abortion industry executives. By giving the nation a peek behind the closed doors of the abortion industry, David Daleiden and his team at CMP have shifted the public discussion about abortion. Their undercover footage reached millions of people, many of whom were open to being swayed on the abortion issue, by giving them the opportunity to observe the depravity of the abortion industry for the first time.

For those who watched the tapes of Planned Parenthood and other abortion industry executives bartering over human body parts and speaking of crushing human skulls, there is little doubt that what the tapes show is evil.

With such damning video evidence showing their executives engaged in illegal behavior and nonchalantly talking about the horrors of abortion, Planned Parenthood knew it had to mount a defense. They couldn’t argue that bartering for human body parts wasn’t wrong and they couldn’t argue that the footage wasn’t real. They were left with only one excuse: they accused CMP of deceptive editing, a claim that has since been proven to be categorically false.

Two studies were done to determine the authenticity of the footage. One of the studies was commissioned by Planned Parenthood and conducted by Fusion GPS. The other was carried out by Coalfire Systems and commissioned by Alliance Defending Freedom.

Fusion GPS is an opposition research firm that has been used for partisan purposes by Democrats on multiple occasions, most notably when they produced a wholly unsubstantiated dossier accusing President Trump of performing unseemly acts with Russian prostitutes. Coalfire Systems, on the other hand, is a highly respected forensic firm servicing Fortune 500 companies and analyzing evidence in civil and criminal investigations.

While there is certainly a credibility gap between these two organizations, both firms definitively concluded that there was no evidence of audio or video manipulation.

The Fusion GPS study found that although there were cuts in the footage, there was no signs of edits or manipulation that would alter the meaning of the dialogue “[Our] analysis did not reveal widespread evidence of substantive video manipulation,” the report says.

Fusion GPS researchers cleared CMP of two specific accusations of audio manipulation made by Planned Parenthood and their allies. Roughly one hour and twenty minutes into CMP’s fourth video, a Planned Parenthood nurse off-camera proclaims, “It’s a baby,” while picking through the remains of a dismembered child. Planned Parenthood claimed that the interaction was suspicious, insinuating that their nurse did not actually say what the video depicted her saying. But Fusion GPS researchers explicitly refuted this claim in their report: “Neither internal nor expert analysis found any artifacts of editing in or around this segment that would suggest the audio was inserted or manipulated using technical tools.”

Similarly, Planned Parenthood accused CMP of manipulating the footage audio to portray a nurse as saying, “It’s a boy!” as she discovered the gender of the dead child. Yet their own commissioned analysis categorically rejected their claim: “Again, neither internal nor external analysis found evidence that CMP inserted or manipulated this dialog post hoc. [Our forensic expert] found the audio spectrum to be consistent and continuous before, during, and after this dialog.”

The Coalfire report was even more unequivocal in its conclusion that the videos had not been altered in any way that would mislead the viewer. They ascertained that the footage is “authentic and show no evidence of manipulation or editing.”  Additionally, while there were cuts in the footage, the edits were only of time spent “commuting, waiting, adjusting recording equipment, meals, and [for] restroom breaks.”

It is extraordinarily rare that two forensic studies, commissioned by political opponents and dealing with such a politicized issue, would come to the same conclusion. In addition, CMP released the full and unedited footage of all their encounters to show that their videos were not deceptively edited. It should have been a slam-dunk victory for the Center for Medical Progress. Why then do so many people still believe Planned Parenthood’s utterly falsified claims?

Planned Parenthood is not fighting this battle alone. Below are articles from prominent “mainstream” publications following the forensic studies which, as we just went over, were nearly unequivocal in their rebuke of Planned Parenthood’s claims of “deceptive editing”:

“Planned Parenthood videos were altered, analysis finds” -The New York Times

“How Planned Parenthood hoax avoids the Truth” -CNN

“Republicans Look to Punish Planned Parenthood Without Any Evidence” -Washington Post

“Planned Parenthood videos: Deceptive edits found by report” -Politico

“Why the undercover Planned Parenthood Videos Aren’t Journalism” -Columbia Journal Review

“Planned Parenthood to House, Senate leaders: Videos manipulated” -The Hill

“Planned Parenthood takes us inside the anti-abortion video editing shop” -LA Times

“Planned Parenthood Says Experts Found Misleading Edits In Videos” -NPR

Although the headlines are misleading, the articles from which they are pulled are even worse. Media reports like these have been so astoundingly inaccurate that purposeful dishonesty with the intent of protecting Planned Parenthood is the only reasonable explanation.

For all intents and purposes, these “news” organizations are public relations firms providing pro-bono service to Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry. The shameless lying displayed by mainstream news seems to surpass that of Planned Parenthood’s own press releases. Even the usually reliable CNN host Jake Tapper cast aside his integrity to carry water for the nation’s largest abortion provider.

There is exactly zero justification for Planned Parenthood’s baseless accusations that the videos were misleadingly altered. Planned Parenthood’s own commissioned study discredits their claims. Anyone claiming otherwise is an intentional liar or a useful idiot.

Without social and alternative media, the truth about CMP’s videos would likely have been hidden from the American public. The information gatekeepers of traditional media have a small range of tolerable thought on the abortion issue, and they are willing to do what it takes to suppress the pro-life movement’s efforts to disseminate the truth about the abortion industry.


James Silberman is a guest contributor to the FPIW Blog. He is a pro-life activist from Gig Harbor, WA, and a student at Whitworth University.